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Upset Neighbors Voice Concerns About Ongoing Problems At Washington Square Park While Protesters Speak Out Against Weekend Curfew

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The NYPD held an emergency meeting Wednesday night over the ongoing problems at Washington Square Park.

Police say the meeting was all about taking suggestions from people in the community. Most who attended say they want a 10 p.m. weekend curfew enforced because they are at the end of their rope.

Nearly 100 neighbors who live near the park packed into a room inside a West Village church, voicing their concerns about ongoing problems at the popular spot.

"People urinating and defecating on our stoop," one person said.

"Our children have witnessed all sorts of things ... from lewd acts to nudity to drugs," another person said.

The community meeting was organized by the NYPD.

Residents addressed issues of violence, loud noise and disorderly activity at the park that has been happening for months.

Some who stood in line to get into the meeting are not happy the recent curfew change from midnight to 10 p.m. has not curved the behavior.

"I'm thinking of moving out of New York 'cause I live around the corner. I'm really fed up with it all. It seems like it's kind of hopeless," Greenwich Village resident Bernie Sigel told CBS2's Cory James.

In one confrontation with police earlier this month, nearly two dozen arrests were made and several police officers suffered injuries.

Jay Walker believes the problem is bigger than police control and speaks to the issues of mental illness.

"The city's response is always call in the police ... Set up mental health resources, addiction recovery resources, help with housing resources in Washington Square Park rather than throwing down an arbitrary curfew that everyone knew would never work, which they've already rescinded," he said.

People who do not support that curfew spoke both inside and outside the church, where some protested the forum.

"It is our park. We have the rights to be there," one person said.

"There's no doubt that the NYPD's presence invites challenge," another person said.

"There's always been drug dealing. There's always been some bad behavior," another person said.

NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison stated the pandemic has created problems for various neighborhoods.

Harrison says the concept of community policing can make a difference.

"We're in a recovery phase and we're waiting get back on our feet to strengthen those relationships, to make sure we make this a safe city again," he said.

Manhattan's borough parks commissioner William Castro says next week, they are going to reopen two areas of the park for more positive use of the park and lawn areas.

That's just one of a number of strategies he says they are working on to improve conditions.

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